Peace Country Winter Mixer 2019 Recap

Posted by Lilli Klamke on March 11, 2019

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Winter in northern Alberta, yes, it was cold during our second Peace Country Mixer! Nevertheless we had a fantastic time in Grande Prairie during the weekend March 2 and 3. What a wonderful and diverse crowd we got to spend the days with. There were new farmers, YA apprentices, farmers travelling the country to gather experience on different farms and of course our very supportive farm friends in the Peace Country, that run well established farms and are keen on growing the new generation of young farmers. We welcomed every new face into our YA community and are thrilled about the growing network that is just starting out in the north!

The next generation of ecological farmers, together with our valuable mentors

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The time went by fast, there was lots to chat about, experiences, knowledge got exchanged, new friendships and connections were created and  a huge amount of inspiration amongst the farmers! Along with skill sharing and exchanging farming expertise, we had a lot of fun during our networking activities. The Peace Country is big so during the FARMER SPEED DATING we ensured everyone got to meet everyone, regardless whether they came from High Prairie,Grimshaw, La Crete, Goodfare or even Ontario.

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The Farmer’s Library

The YA Mixers are all about networking. The library is a great tool to  share everyones favorite book resources! Folks brought a great variety of farmtastic books to share where they have gotten their ideas and inspiration from!

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“Treat your Farm as a Business”

Chris Bodnar co-owns and operates Close to Home Organics at Glen Valley Organic Farm in Abbotsford. He came to the Mixer to let us know about some basic and very important facts about finances in the business of farming. One key component is not only to come up with a concrete financial goal for the outcome of your farm, but also the monitoring of it. If you are not doing so already start “Treating your farm as a business”. On Sunday Chris dove deep into the background of Co-ops. We discussed the essentials needs of the farming community in the region. He truly got the Peace Country farmers excited about joined efforts within a farming cooperative.

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Inspiration from Local Indigenous Food Systems

Julian Napoleon is Dane-zaa and Cree from the Peace River region. At the Mixer we got to learn how he grew up immersed in the subsistence practices of his family and community including hunting, fishing, foraging, and learning cultural protocols. He has also spent many years studying and practicing small-scale organic agriculture. Currently Julian is homesteading a piece of land and at the same time he is involved with numerous projects related to ecological health and biocultural heritage. As a member of the Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty, Julian is dedicated to raising awareness around Indigenous issues related to land, water, food, and community. We were absolutely honoured to have Julian share his knowledge, experiences, projects and much more with us. He got us to wrap our minds about numerous interesting, alarming and inspiring topics.

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Tapping into the “Local Roots”

Is it a tough change to quit your ongoing business or off farm job to dive into your vegetable garden full time to turn it into a business? YES! Is it one of the most rewarding things to feed your community healthy vegetables and to get to know your customers? YES! Sarah Simmonds is doing it! She founded “Local Roots Gardens” near High Prairie and is looking forward to dive into her third season of vegetable farming! Sharing her start up success story was truly inspiring to all of us! Sometimes you have to “Jump Right In”! Over the years Sarah’s farm business has been expanding and she ventured from supplying the local eatery “The Farm Truck” to a “CSA Veggie Box Subscription” as well as supplying her produce at Farmers Markets in the area.

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Peace Country Harvest

…during our two days of learning and connecting we collected impressions, messages, facts, emotions and more!

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Farm Experiences and YA Apprenticeship Program

Mackenzie Bouteillier shared her farming journey with us. She started out as a YA Apprentice at Steel Pony Farm by Red Deer, Alberta and is going to be working her third season at the vegetable farm. Often we do not mention what a personal journey it actually is to be working out on the land. There are numerous challenges that are letting us farmers grow from season to season. At Steel Pony Farm they started to practice frequent check ins with their entire team. This conscious communication is strengthening their team and their relationship with one another.

The Young Agrarians Apprenticeship Program provides the opportunity to engage young folks that are new to farming through a unique experience on a farm across the Province. The farm hosts are passing on their skills, knowledge and provide a space for young farmers to learn, to educate themselves and to provide opportunity for our future generation of farmers. We invited Jerry Kitt, First Nature Farms and Levke Eggers to join our panel. They have been hosts to international and national people over decades of years. Levke is a farm host to agricultural students from overseas through advertisement in an agricultural magazine only. Jerry on the other side is part of help exchange, wwoofing and other programs, he opens his doors to travellers, food lovers, agricultural students, honestly everyone who is coming for a good experience. Lisa and Donovan Kitt, farming at The Homestead, are going to be part of the YA Apprenticeship Program this year and even shared some of their most recent experiences with woofers at their farm. The panel gave everyone a chance to ask all kinds of questions hosting farm helpers an or visitors.

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We couldn’t have done it without them:

A BIG Thank You to all our supporters!!!

Peace Country Mixer 2019 Sponsors

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